Former Deputy Heather Cogar v. Citrus County Sheriff’s Office

Breaking News

Inverness, FL — Former Deputy Heather Cogar’s lawyer, Jay P. Lechner, Esq. of the WHITTEL & MELTON law firm, sent a letter to Sheriff Prendergast today outlining Ms. Cogar’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Charge of Discrimination against the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) submitted on March 6, 2017. In this letter, Sheriff Prendergast, Commander Buddy Grant, Captain Brad Smith, and Detective Bryan Hesse are accused by Cogar’s attorney of engaging in “a pattern of ongoing unlawful actions against Ms. Cogar, including but not limited to malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, defamation, perjury, hostile work environment and a pattern of gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Florida Civil Rights Act.”

The letter also claims that Ms. Cogar was falsely arrested and jailed without probable cause and without having her Miranda rights read; a false arrest that was based upon “false testimony against her under oath, a felony under Florida law.”

Mr. Lechner continues by stating that the Prendergast administration “has refused to properly admonish or investigate the male officers for their roles in pursuing false claims against Ms. Cogar and perjuring themselves. For example, questions concerning the actions of the alleged victim, Mr. Hesse, at the time of the incident have been raised, suggesting unfitness for duty. Remarkably, you have not disciplined any of these male employees in any way for providing false testimony or for the perjury they committed.”

Recently, Prosecutor Richard Lehman of the State Attorney’s Office filed an announcement of no information because there was “evidence legally insufficient to prove” Cogar guilty of the domestic battery charge from Dec. 10, 2016. When the Standard questioned the sheriff’s office as to whether former deputy Cogar would be offered a full reinstatement, Heather Yates stated that she would not be reinstated.

“The State Attorney’s determination in this matter does not alter my decision on previously sustained violations for Violation of SOP 108.00; Improper Conduct, Conduct Unbecoming,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “It is in the best interest of this agency to allow Heather Cogar to continue her training as a Communications Officer while getting the help she needs to be successful here in our organization and in life.”

The letter sent to CCSO today concludes that Ms. Cogar intends to pursue all administrative and legal remedies available to her under the law, including but not limited to, a formal Charge of Discrimination filed with both the EEOC and Florida Commission on Human Relations and a civil lawsuit against the CCSO (and the individual perpetrators of Sheriff Prendergast, Commander Buddy Grant, Captain Brad Smith, and Detective Bryan Hesse).

Click Here for Deputy Hesse 911 Call and Cogar Documents

The Standard will continue to monitor these developments as they take place. The cover letter to Sheriff Prendergast, the formal Charge of Discrimination, and Detective Bryan Hesse’s December 10th 911 call can all be seen and heard by clicking on the blue link provided above. If you like local, investigative reporting please like the Suncoast Standard page and share this article on your social media page.

Submitted by: Lou Newman, CEO/Publisher of the Suncoast Standard (c) Apr. 7, 2017
Last Updated at: 7:29 PM EST on Apr. 10, 2017


  1. Pretendergast is a dupe, plain and simple. His exaggerations and embellishment alone should have prevented him from office. I am still trying to figure out how he pays no property tax, which pays his deputies, because he is 100 percent disabled. Yet he is employed and working for the same county that is giving him a total waiver of paying his taxes, as well as paying his salary. Now I understand that VA is for previous disability, but evidently he has recovered enough to be Sheriff. Maybe someone needs to find out what he claimed with the VA, and now what he is capable of doing as Sheriff. The way I look at it, either the people of Citrus are not collecting tax from a working man in their county, or he is shamming the VA and has recovered enough to give up his VA benefits. Surely as former head of Floridas VA he is aware of how many Vets can not get benefits. Come clean Sheriff

    • Preach it, Alan! Dude should be paying taxes like the rest of us- and how DOES a man working with no restrictions at one job ALSO get total disability from another? There are way too many Vets in need that have TRUE disabilities and are not physically able to work that deserve what he is taking. Coming from being the head cheese at the VA, you think he would have more compassion for his fellow vets, instead he just figured out a way to screw the system- and his former battles. So sad.

  2. I completely agree. The letter of the law, and the spirit are two separate things. I am not saying he does not deserve his VA. But if he is the Sheriff of a county that he is not disabled in, because he is working, pay your tax. If in turn, he in turn feels like he is no longer disabled, he should report to VA of his approved condition. The County and the VA are both losing out and he is taking both for a ride. He should be allowed his limitations because he earned them honorably serving. The question is he violating them or did he claim a disability he did not have or he may have recovered. I certainly hope is he is recovered and can help more Vets out and the citizens of Citrus County.

  3. If it has not already been done, this information should be sent to Governor Scott, the Florida Commission for Law Enforcement Accreditation, CALEA, and the Florida Sheriff’s Association.

    • Dianne, Prendergast worked as Chief of Staff under Scott and it was Scott that appointed Prendergast to the head position @ the VA… so I believe Scott would not be the answer to the problem. Private citizens would serve jail time for what this person is doing- and he is the Sheriff, and by all meaning, keeper of the law- this does NOT make him ABOVE the law!

  4. I have to agree with Brad Smith, I sent a letter to the Governors office while Predergast was Chief of Staff regarding transgressions of CCSO, went nowhere.

  5. I want to show support for this officer. I too have been a recent victim of similar circumstances. How can I get in touch with her to show support?

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